How to Help Your Child Prepare to Choose a Mate
No, you don't have to start drilling your children when they're still in elementary school about who they're going to marry one day. But, you can start planting the seeds of how to think through this major life decision.
1. Head and Heart. Help your children understand that choosing a husband or wife is a heart and head decision. They need to know that the butterflies in their stomach aren't an indicator that "this is the one." Help them think through the qualities that make a good mate. You can say something like, "It's easy to feel, 'Oh, he's so cute!' but you need to find out if he's nice and kind, too."
2. Crush Questions. When you child does have a crush, try to figure out what caused them to choose that particular person. Learn from their answers as you teach them to go deeper, beyond the feeling. Ask, "What do you like about him? Is it the way he looks or the things he says? Is he smart?" Teach them to assess character qualities. Bring up areas that are important to you: "Is he respectful to his teachers? Does he go to church? Does he have nice friends?"
3. Fish in the Sea. Remind your children that there are lots of people in the world and that it won't come down to having to marry this or that person. Prepare them for rejection by teaching them that even though it can hurt, it's not the end of the world. Also talk about how rejection can lead to better things. I recently told my daughter that sometimes I was so sad that a particular boy (man) didn't like me. But, I told her, it all worked out because that led me to her father.
4. Real Marriage. Show your children that marriage is wonderful—a lifetime partnership where each partner makes the other stronger. But, also let them know that it's not the "happily ever after" they read about in fairy tales.
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